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Demonstrators take to the streets in protest for transgender man killed by police

Alex McIntyre
Protesters take the street and march west on Congress Street from the Ronstadt Transit Center in downtown Tucson on Thursday, Feb. 11. The group demonstrated in response to the recent killing of Kayden Clarke, a transgender man, by Mesa, Ariz. police, according to a flier distributed by the protesters.

On Thursday night, demonstrators took to the Tucson streets in protest against police and police brutality in the wake of the killing of a transgender man at the hands of Mesa, Arizona police.

Last week, Kayden Clarke, 24, was shot and killed by police officers in his home when they were called in response to a possible suicidal woman, according to CNN. Clarke was in the process of transitioning from female to male and was also diagnosed with Asperger’s and was believed to possibly have other mental health issues.

The night of his death, Clarke was shot and killed after lunging within 10 ft. of police. Both officers fired their weapons and killed Clarke, according to CNN reports.

Tonight, protesters took to the Ronstadt Transit Center on Congress Street to voice disapproval of the killing and police brutality. Many at the demonstration had hopes to send a message of acceptance of the transgender community and a society without law enforcement.  

Karl Wagner, father of transgender son Oliver, 15, stood in solidarity with the family of Clarke and came to support his son’s transition.

“I’m here to support my transgender son and to support the movement,” Wagner said. “To bring awareness to the fact that transgender lives matter too.” 

Protesters arrived at 7 p.m. to unravel a banner reading “Rest in Power Kayden Clarke — Queers for a World without Police.” The demonstrators remained at the transit center for an hour before taking to the streets.

Protesters entered the streets in the midst of traffic with heavily police activity trailing behind the crowd. Many of the demonstrators materialized themselves in “black bloc,” a practice in which protesters wear all black clothing. 

Phillip Simpson, a protester at the demonstration donned in black bloc, said the killing of Clarke last week brought about emotions of anger. However, Simpson is not surprised by the actions of the officers and the situation that happened.

“They sort of have a record of these kind of actions against people who are having a breakdown of some kind,” Simpson said. “Somebody calls the police for help and then the police end up killing the person.”

Throughout the demonstration, protesters chanted anti-police statements. 

During the march, a protester sporting black bloc created barriers with traffic and construction signs in front of the police vehicles following behind the crowd, while officers on bicycles diverted busy traffic.

Shannon Crowder, a transgender man, said that the situation with Clarke is an example of the pressure society places upon the people within the transgender community.  

“On top of being trans, it’s even worse when you have a mental problem,” Crowder said. “And often, being trans comes along with that because of the certain things that society deems as okay. Even you have a mental disorder, it’ll amplify it in the process.”  

The demonstrators eventually took to the Fourth Avenue underpass. While the crowd exited the underpass towards University Boulevard, police officers declared the protest an unlawful assembly and commanded the dispersion of the crowd. 

Demonstrators ignored commands from police and marched down Fourth Avenue to Sixth Street. The protesters ended their march and peacefully dispersed on Sixth Street and Sixth Avenue.

The Daily Wildcat reporters Alex McIntyre and Chastity Laskey contributed to this story.

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